Today, I took a little break from work to join Sparky and Sarah Marquis, the owners of Molly Dooker, a premium South Australian winery, for lunch at Masseto (now called M Restaurant) in Salcedo Village.
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ONE OF MY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
Before I talk about the wines, I have to say that Chef Tippi Tambunting made an excellent five-course lunch. This just reconfirmed to me exactly why Masseto is still among my favorite restaurants in Manila.
I only really like about four or five restaurants in Manila, and Masseto is definitely one of them.
I've liked it since Day One -- or Day Minus One, more accurately, since I was one of those who sampled their trial menus prior to opening day.
THE M BAR IS PRETTY GOOD, TOO
I always like the food here, and today, lunch was simply fabulous. Especially with the Molly Dooker wines.
And the M Bar right next to Masseto has an excellent stock of Japanese whiskey, by the way, in case you're looking for a cool bar to go to.
They told me how they met on the first day of classes at wine–making school in Australia, and that they've been together ever since.
THE WHOLE FAMILY'S INVOLVED
They also make wines for the love of it, and their whole extended family – mother and best friends included – are involved in the business.
They've even named wines after their kids – or at least inspired by their kids.
A very powerful red with the intriguing name of Blue–eyed Boy, for instance, is namee after their son Luke.
A REAL LOVE FOR WINES. AND WINE–MAKING
However, it is their love for wines and winemaking – which is rather impressive, considering they are only first–generation wine–makers – that is most strikingly obvious.
Sparky said today: *Whenever we make wines, we ask ourselves three questions. One: would I drink a glass of it? Two: would I drink a bottle of it? And three: would I drink a bottle of it by myself? If the answers to these questions is basically a "no," then we don't make the wine."
Instead they sell the grapes or the juice to other wine producers who buy in bulk for lower–end wines.
WINES THAT ARE NOT FOR THE SHY
As for the Molly Dooker wines, I have to put on record that I really liked them. They rank right up there with other highly–prized wines like Torbreck and Two Hands.
They're brash, aggressive and right-in-your-face so they're delicious.
There's also none of the snobbery associated with Old World wines, although the price points for Molly Dooker are not exactly cheap, and Molly Dooker wines have received many awards and citations.
EVERYONE LOVES THE CARNIVAL OF LOVE
Molly Dooker's Carnival of Love 2005 was rated 99 points by Robert Parker.
Interestingly, this award–winning wine was made from grape vines that were very young, around five years old.
And the Carnival of Love wine is perhaps the best out of the Molly Dooker lot.
The husband of singer Annie Lenox reportedly tried a bottle on holiday in the Bahamas.
He liked the Carnival of Love so much that he contacted the winery and arranged to have 1000 bottles shipped to him under a private label connected with a song he was writing.
MY FAVORITE MOLLY DOOKER WINE
My favorite Molly Dooker wine so far, however, is the Blue-eyed Boy.
It tasted of candy and sweetness, and it was simply perfect with a lovely cheese souffle served as a second course for lunch.
I could not have enough of this wine. Even now, I can't stop thinking about it.
And perhaps a line on one side of the red and romantic Molly Dooker wine gift box says it all: "When love is found, we desire no more because we are full."
That was certainly a full lunch today, in every sense, in Makati, living a never–ending, and never–endingly eventful Travelife.
THE MENU & WINES AT TODAY'S LUNCH
WITH MOLLY DOOKER OWNERS SPARKY & SARAH MARQUIS
Calamari with onion marmalade
served with The Violinist 2012
Butternut squash soup with goat cheese tortellini
served with Two Left Feet 2011
Cheese souffle with mixed greens
served with Blue–eyed Boy 2009
Crispy chicken with jamon serrano
served with Carnival of Love 2010
Chocolate hazelnut tart